Speakers Profile - John Schumann

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John Schumann is one of the very few songwriters who has changed the way a nation thinks. Accordingly, he holds a distinguished place in the Australian music industry.

Best known, perhaps, for his leadership of the legendary folk-rock band Redgum, and his Vietnam veterans' anthem, I was only 19, John Schumann first came to national attention in 1980 as Redgum's lead singer-songwriter.

In the ensuing years John Schumann recorded nine albums and, with Redgum, toured the UK, Europe and Ireland where his songs are still played.

In 27 years in Australian music, as a member of Redgum and as a solo artist, John Schumann has received almost every award the industry has to offer; some twice over.

Prior to going professional with Redgum, John Schumann taught English, Drama and Outdoor Education at Marion High School in South Australia. On leaving the band in 1986, he worked in radio and television before specialising in media and marketing-communications. John also held senior executive positions in the SA Tourism Commission and the Department for the Arts and Cultural Heritage.

In 1998 until 2001, John's passion for social justice and the environment led him into mainstream politics. In the 1998 federal election he took the Minister for Foreign Affairs down to the wire in the seat of Mayo, reducing Mr Downer's blue-ribbon margin from 16 percent to 1.7 percent. John Schumann campaigned for three weeks only. The count took 12 days.

In late 2005 John Schumann released Lawson, a highly acclaimed album of songs drawn from the poetic works of Henry Lawson. The album, features appearances by long-time mates Rob Hirst and Hugh McDonald - as well as Russell Morris, Mike Rudd, Shane Howard and Broderick Smith. Lawson is, in some ways, the genesis of the production Lawson: Demons and Dreams.

Described recently by rock historian Glenn A. Baker as one of the finest songwriters this country has produced, John's songs have been paid the ultimate compliment by becoming the property of the people and the country they were written about. His lyrics are on reading lists in schools, colleges and universities throughout Australia.

John Schumann lives in Adelaide with his family where he runs his own strategic communications company.